Aaron Vale continued his winning ways Thursday at Tryon International Equestrian Center & Resort (TIEC), claiming the $37,000 Horseware Ireland Welcome Stake CSI 3* aboard Elusive, after stopping the jump-off timers at 34.506. The remainder of the podium belonged to Canada: Erynn Ballard tripped the timers just behind Vale in 34.553 for reserve aboard Gakhir, the 2011 Dutch Warmblood stallion (Spartacus x Indorado) owned by Ilan Ferder and Esperanza Imports, and Sam Walker dashed to third after his 36.507 second, clear performance with Hermelien VD Hooghoeve, the 2007 Belgian Warmblood mare (Otangelo x Thunder van de Zuuthoeve) owned by Evergate Stables LLC.
Only eight pairs returned to the jump-off course after 38 entries attempted the first-round track set by Michel Vaillancourt (CAN). Vale was first to tour the short course, and Elusive’s trailblazing time proved to be just that as all remaining entries were unable to upset their lead. Vale also piloted Major, the 2007 Danish Warmblood (Carmargue x Pinot) owned by Don Stewart, to sixth place, dropping one rail and finishing in a time of 36.67 seconds. Aboard the Thinks Like a Horse entry and 2009 Dutch Warmblood gelding (Rodrigoo x Capfucino), Vale navigated the course which seemed to get trickier as it went, he thought:
Michel [Vaillancourt] is a brilliant designer. The course was tricky and seemed to get a little harder at the end as there were maybe more rails towards the end of the course from what I saw. It was just hard enough with eight clear, so if you went clear you were getting a nice check,” Vale assessed. “It was an exciting jump-off. That’d be the third or fourth class that he’s won this year going first in the jump-off! I didn’t take all the chances, I left the door open just a little, to where one or two were quicker than me, but they had one [rail] down.”
Despite an untouchable time, Vale acknowledged that he didn’t want to put the medal to the metal today ahead of the ultimate goal, Saturday’s $137,000 Cleghorn Golf & Sports Club Grand Prix CSI 3*. “I want to save a little tread on the tires! He’s a crafty horse and it was just quick enough to put the pressure on the others, and they either didn’t catch us or they had the one down. He [Elusive] will have an easy day tomorrow so he’ll feel fresh for Saturday.”
Elusive was actually borrowed from Vale’s wife, Mallory, to test his talent, but she hasn’t gotten her horse back since he started winning at the higher levels, Aaron revealed. “My wife showed him for a few years in the high amateurs, with a decent amount of success. About a year and a half ago she said I should try him in some bigger classes, but I [thought] I was too big for him because he’s not a very big horse,” Vale admitted.
“As more prize money became available, she said, ‘You have to try it and see if he can do it!’ And she hasn’t gotten him back since! He’s been a wonderful horse for us, and he’s having a good go. That’s probably his fifth or sixth FEI class win this year,” Vale reflected. “[Being here at] Tryon is awesome. We love it! The weather’s been quite good so far and we’re having a wonderful show, and we’re enjoying it a lot,” he concluded.
Kristen VanderVeen and Bull Run’s Divine Fortune Fly to $37,000 Power & Speed Stake CSI 3* Win
Kristen VanderVeen (USA) and Bull Run’s Divine Fortune stopped the second phase timers in 31.5 seconds to win Wednesday’s $37,000 Power & Speed Stake CSI 3* in Tryon Stadium. Second and third place went to Conor Swail (IRL), claiming second aboard Koss van Heiste, the 2010 Belgian Warmblood gelding (Breemeersen Adorado x Hadise Van Heiste) owned by Eadaoin Aine Ni Choileain PC, in 33.924 seconds and receiving third with Gamble, the 2011 Dutch Warmblood gelding (Vingino x Indoctro) owned by Asta Torokvei, in a time of 34.104 seconds.
VanderVeen and the 2009 Dutch Warmblood mare (Padinus x Caruso) owned by Bull Run Jumpers Six LLC teamed up to shine in exactly the right class, she noted.
“Today’s pretty exciting! I brought this horse this week only to jump this class, so I’m really glad the plan came together. She’s been great, but hasn’t gotten to jump much at the FEI [level] because ‘the boys’ have been taking over the spotlight,” VanderVeen reported of her deep string of talented horses. “She [Divine Fortune] was recently second in the National Grand Prix. It’s going to be a lighter week for us, but it’s off to a good start.
“The course was great. It was a little bigger than I expected, but the speed part of it was really open with some fun slices,” she shared. The competitive ride was made possible in part by Divine Fortune’s talent for taking the angle, VanderVeen concluded. “That horse is really good at finding the jumps, so I can hold a pretty aggressive angle and she always sees it. It was actually a really fun speed section!”
Sam Walker and Hermelien VD Hooghoeve Win $2,000 Power & Speed Stake CSI 3*
Sam Walker (CAN) and Hermelien VD Hooghoeve, the 2007 Belgian Warmblood mare (Otangelo x Thunder van de Zuuthoeve) owned by Evergate Stables LLC, finished the speed phase of Wednesday’s $2,000 Power & Speed Stake CSI 3* competition in 35.961 to take the win. Daniel Pedraza (MEX) and Santa Rosa Coldplay, the 2010 Oldenburg gelding owned by Ro’slane Stables Ltd, halted the timers on 37.388 seconds to earn reserve, while Nicolette Hirt (USA) piloted Chatou 7, the Iron Horse Equestrian 2009 Oldenburg gelding (Chacco-Blue x Toulon), to third on a time of 37.641 seconds over the Michel Vaillancourt (CAN) track.
Trip of the Day: Aaron Vale and Jennifer Bliss Earn Best Hunter Scores
Aaron Vale and Jagerbomb, owned by Infinity Equestrian LLC, produced a showgrounds-high score of 85 to earn Wednesday’s Trip of the Day presented by Randi and Kelly Goulding, a $500 check given to the highest-scoring Hunter rider each day of Tryon Spring 6/Tryon Riding & Hunt Club Charity Horse Show. The duo earned their winning score in the Green Hunter 3’9” Division.
Jennifer Bliss and Face the Music, owned by Harris Hill Farm LLC, were awarded Thursday’s Trip of the Day presented by Two Rivers Hay, after scoring a 90 in the Performance Hunter 3’6” Division.
For full results from the $37,000 Horseware Ireland Welcome Stake CSI 3*, click here.
For full results from the $37,000 Power & Speed Stake CSI 3*, click here.
For full results from the $2,000 Power & Speed Stake CSI 3*, click here.
Tryon Spring 6/Tryon Riding & Hunt Club Charity Horse Show continues through Sunday, June 13, with highlight classes available for live streaming at www.Tryon.com/streaming. Friday features the $6,000 Speed Stake CSI 3* and Saturday sees the return of Saturday Night Lights for the $137,000 Cleghorn Golf & Sports Club Grand Prix CSI 3*.